Spiced Shepherds Pie
450g | 1lb small minced lamb
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 tightly packed tablespoon grated ginger
1/2 tightly packed tablespoon grated garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons Kathmandu Masala
1/2 teaspoon crushed dry chillies
1 tablespoon tomato puree
2 medium chopped fresh tomatoes
60ml | 1/4 cup cold pressed rapeseed oil or vegetable oil for frying
1 teaspoon Salt plus to taste
900g | 2lb floury potatoes
60ml | 1/4 cup vegetable oil
55g | 2 oz Butter
1 teaspoon whole cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 spring onions
Finely chop the onion
Finely chop the tomatoes
Peel the potatoes leaving them fairly large chunks roughly 4-6 cm | 2-3 inch in diameter
Place the potatoes in a pan and cover with salted water (a similar saltiness to sea water is perfect). Put the lid on the pan and bring potatoes to the boil then cook 15 minutes until potatoes are 2/3 cooked. Test the potatoes with a knife, the outside should be soft while the centre should still have some resistance to the knife. Drain the potatoes reserving the cooking water and allow them to cool while you cook the mince.
Heat the rapeseed oil in a heavy bottomed pan or wok until it just starts to give off a mustardy aroma, add the lamb and stir-fry until the meat is almost cooked through. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, chilli and Kathmandu masala, continue to stir-fry until all the liquid from the meat has dried, Add some of the potato cooking water (roughly 180ml | 3/4 cup) to lift the juices and any stuck meat from the pain and continue to cook until the sauce has dried again. Add in the fresh chopped tomatoes and tomato purée then stir-fry to allow the tomatoes to release their juices. Once again allow the lamb mixture to dry and just as it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan taste it, add 250ml | 1 cup of leftover potato water (the leftover potato water is salted so if there’s enough salt in the mince for you just use plain water instead) stir well and cook until the sauce around the mince thickens to a gravy. Take the mince off the heat and immediately turn into an oven proof dish big enough to allow for an inch gap at the top, set the mixture aside to cool.
While the lamb mince is cooling clean and dry the pan and warm it on a medium-high heat, add the vegetable oil and the butter until the butter is just melted then add the whole Cumin seeds allowing the oil mixture to foam until the butter just starts to brown. Tip the potatoes into the brown butter and stir-fry a little before adding the ground Cumin and spring onions. Fry potato mixture turning gently every once in awhile so all the potato is covered with butter and Cumin. It’s fine if a little of a potato starts to brown on the bottom of the pan, once this happens take the potatoes off the heat and spoon over the lamb, pressing very gently to form a seal around the dish, while letting the potato to be rough and lumpy on top (this will make your topping crunchy).
What happens next depends on whether you are going to cook, chill or freeze the pie.
To cook straight away
Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160ºC fan, 350ºF, Gas 4, moderate Aga.
Bake the pie for 25-35 minutes, until the potato top is golden and crispy
Cool the pie as quickly as you can, cover with baking parchment add store in the fridge for up to 2 days
Cool the pie as quickly as you can, if you’re not using a freezer proof oven dish cover the pie with baking parchment then place in a plastic bag before freezing. Defrost before cooking.
To cook from chilled
Unwrap the pie and let it sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes. you don’t need to preheat the oven before baking the pie at 180°C (160ºC fan, 350ºF, Gas 4, moderate Aga) for 40-45 minutes, until the potato top is golden and the lamb is piping hot all the way through.